Student-led production of “Almost, Maine” performed this week

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Taylor Hagmann

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Just above par
May 15, 2019

Caelwaerts and Matthias, fourth-year students, direct the performance

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Student-led production of “Almost, Maine” performed this week

Actors rehearsing for this week’s performances of “Almost, Maine.”

Actors rehearsing for this week’s performances of “Almost, Maine.”

Photo by Taylor Hagmann

Actors rehearsing for this week’s performances of “Almost, Maine.”

Photo by Taylor Hagmann

Photo by Taylor Hagmann

Actors rehearsing for this week’s performances of “Almost, Maine.”

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Almost, Maine.

Located in northern Maine, this fictional town is the setting for a series of short plays that comprise the production by the same name — “Almost, Maine.”

“’Almost, Maine’ is about love,” Devon Caelwaerts, a fourth-year psychology student, said. “It’s about staying true to who you are, and that there are people who accept you for who you are.”

“Almost, Maine” was written by John Cariani and first performed in 2004. However, this version is directed by two UW-Eau Claire students: Caelwaerts and Jenna Matthias, a fourth-year organizational communication and theater arts student.

There are nine vignettes — short stories following different couples — that are all about various types of love: love between new couples, couples that have been together for a long time, pairs that are coming back together and “ending love,” Caelwaerts said.

“They’re love stories with a twist,” Matthew Griesel, a first-year communication sciences and disorders student and an actor in the show, said. “Everything starts out fine, but things are unexpected.”   

Caelwaerts said there is comedy and drama interspersed throughout the stories — funny moments often precede somber ones.

“I like the sadder parts,” Matthias said. “Trying to get a reaction from the audience during a sad scene is harder, so it’s more rewarding.”  

The arrangement of the theater makes it easier for the directors to gauge the crowd, and for the crowd to view the scene, Caelwaerts said.

The play will be performed in what is called a thrust space. In this type of space, the audience is on three sides of the performers, as opposed to just in front of them, providing the audience with a new perspective of the stage, Caelwaerts said.

Matthias said all the actors have come out of their shells, and the joking banter between herself and Caelwaerts has played a big role in making the other actors feel more comfortable with each other.

Matthias said she was very impressed with the actors in the show.

“They’ve developed their characters in ways I didn’t know they’d be able to do,” she said.

While Matthias said she directed a play in high school, this is Caelwaerts’ first time directing and both Matthias’ and Caelwaerts’ first time directing a college-level play, Caelwaerts said.

“We’ve been called the ‘dream team’” Matthias said.

Almost, Maine will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on March 20, 7 p.m. on March 21 and 7:30 p.m. on March 22 in the Riverside Theater in Haas Fine Arts Center. Tickets will be for sale at the door, but can be purchased ahead of time at Davies Student Center or online through the Service Center.

Hagmann can be reached at [email protected]

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